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Friday 24th May
Trinidad and Tobago Information - Page 2
Before Christopher Columbus claimed Trinidad and Tobago for Spain, islanders were Arawaks and Caribs who had migrated from South America. Spain began colonization in the 1530s enslaving the population; many died from unfamiliar diseases, brought to the island by the Spanish, and others died in slavery. African slaves were shipped to Trinidad and Tobago to replace the Amerindian labour.

Towards the end of the eighteenth century the French Revolution led to an influx of colonists from the French Caribbean. More migrants arrived following the Spanish government's offer of land on favourable terms for Roman Catholics.

By the end of the eighteenth century Trinidad had been acquired by the British and soon declared a British possession. The UK abolished slavery in the 1830s and indentured labour for the plantations was brought in from India. Migrants also came from China and the Portuguese island of Madeira.

Tobago, which had been colonized by the Dutch, Spanish, Latvians, French and English, was ceded to the British in 1814. The islands of Trinidad and Tobago remained under British control until independence in 1962. The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is a member of the UK's Commonwealth.

The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is one of the most industrialized countries of the Caribbean. Deposits of oil and natural gas are a great asset to the economy. Other industries include cement, chemicals, cotton textiles, food processing and beverages.

The agricultural sector employs the smallest percentage of the labour force. Agricultural products are cocoa, coffee, rice, vegetables, poultry, citrus and tropical fruits and flowers.

The services sector employs a large percentage of the working population. The Tourism and Industrial Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago (TIDCO) was established to promote investment, trade and tourism. The tourist industry is mainly centred in Tobago. (2011)

Trinidad is well known for calypso music that began as a way of communication between slaves working in the plantations. Later, calypso developed and became an important feature of the Carnival festivals.

The use of the steel drum began during the Carnivals of the 1930s although steel bands did not emerge until the 1940s. In 1951 the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra performed at London's South Bank - a successful performance introducing the steel band to a wider world audience.

In the world of literature V.S Naipaul is the country's most famous writer. Born in Trinidad in 1932 Naipaul moved to England at the age of eighteen. An internationally known author of short stories, novels (A House for Mr. Biswas) and works of non-fiction, Naipaul was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2001.

Cricket is a very popular sport in Trinidad and Tobago; the main cricket ground is Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain. A number of the country's cricketers have played for the West Indies Team including Brian Lara, Trinidad and Tobago's most famous player.

Football and rugby are also popular sports and basketball is a particular favourite amongst the young. Other sports include motor racing, powerboat racing, kayaking, sailing and scuba diving.

All religious holidays are celebrated. Other holidays include New Year's Day (1 January), Labour Day (19 June), Emancipation Day (1 August), Independence Day (31 August) and Republic Day (24 September).

Trinidad and Tobago is especially well known for Carnival, a national event that lasts for two days in March.

News from Trinidad is available from Newslink.

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